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A Color Palette Special of the MLB Variety (or, Jim Vilk’s Dream Realized)


By Phil Hecken

Yesterday afternoon, in the bowels of the concrete dome known as Tropicana Field, the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays played a “throwback” game befitting of the 1970s. Yes, the Rainbow Guts versus the Unis-that-never-were turned back the clock to a year approximating 1978 in an enclosed stadium played on what used to be called “Astroturf.” Perfect.

Of course, I really wanted to see this game, and of course, because 1) I don’t live in the broadcast area, b) I don’t have the MLB package on tv or interwebs, and III) it was a really gorgeous day where I live, I didn’t get to see it. Hopefully some of you did. Because it was probably THE. MOST. COLORFUL. GAME. in major league history. Sure, some games played in the 1970s probably come close — but in modern times, this was what our once and future? former NCAA Football 5 & 1 host Jim Vilk would call your “Color Palette Special.”

Let’s just get right into the game and the unis. For any image, click to enlarge:

.. .. ..




Ar6 AR11


I mean, what words can one use to describe this game? Colorful…bright…flashy? Imagine if they played it outdoors, under the sun, on real grass? Nah…that would be too good. Better to keep it under the lights of the dome. I’m not complaining, mind you — I love that the Rays do this (more on that in a sec), and for one day a year, I’m pumped to see this type of game. It reminds us of the fashion statement Major League Baseball was making (not every team, mind you, but quite a few) during the “me” generation. That’s MY generation, and while I’m glad it was a phase we grew out of (as a nation and as a baseball fashion), I’m also happy it once existed.

Now, this actually marks the third year the Rays have worn these “fauxbacks” (and I covered those first two games here and here, if you’d like to see the history of the concept). The uniforms are “fauxbacks” of course, because they were never worn — because the Rays (nee Devil Rays) were not a team in the late 1970s. But the idea behind these uniforms is if they were a team back then, this is what they’d have worn. The wore these uniforms two years ago against the Tigers and last year against the White Sox.

Of course, as I wrote last year in covering the Rays/White Sox game — the uniform is basically “borrowed” straight from the Padres of that era:

“Initially, I was not a fan of the Rays fauxback, but it has grown on me, and the concept of inventing a uniform for a team that didn’t exist. Pure 70’s (and a pure Padres ripoff, as you’ll see momentarily). But the designer came up with a logo and wordmark, which was cool:



“If only they had shown a *little* imagination and not basically lifted the uniform from the 1978 Padres, who, with a color swap of brown and gold for navy and powder blue, were pretty identical. Check out the 1978 Padres:



“I mean, that’s the Padres 1978 road uni right down to the font! The only thing different is the placement of the front uni number:”

Screen Shot 2013-07-07 at 12.00.06 AM

Of course, the Astros were throwing back as well, this time to a uniform they’d actually worn in their history. Interestingly, they wore this uniform, as the road team, once before this year, when they played the Mariners about a month ago. They got the uniform pretty darn correct then, and with the exception of a couple guys not wearing stirrups yesterday, they looked really good. My only quibble is (and this happens quite often with Majestic), the nameplate was placed too low on the back. But other than that…here’s some closeups:




The game was not without incident, however, as Jake Odorizzi of the Rays had a stirrup malfunction:


And the Rays, eschewing the “authenticity” of the “throwback” decided (and in this instance, I agree, despite the “historical” inaccuracy) to add the “ZIM” patch to the fauxbacks:


All in all (and I really wish I’d seen the game, although it was an 8-0, one-hit shutout by the Rays) it looked bright, and flashy and … FUN. Considering the seasons both teams are having (although the Astros may have the makings of a pretty good club in the not-too-distant future) it was probably a very welcome diversion as well. If you read Uni Watch (and obviously, if you’ve read this far, you do), you know Paul and I both love Rays skipper Joe Maddon (even if he wasn’t originally a fan of the fauxbacks) and the various methods he employs to keep his guys loose and entertained. I’m not sure if the fauxback idea was Maddon’s, but he’s certainly been instrumental in keeping it alive. Good on him, good on the Rays, and good on the Astros for partaking in this year’s game.

If Jim ever did a 5 & 1 for baseball, this would score both his coveted “1 best” AND “Color Palette Special.” For all time.

Special thanks to Amanda Rykoff, Astros Social Media Manager, and Wayne Koehler for the Astros uni closeups, and the Rays stirrup malfunction photos, respectively. If you’d like to see more photos, I’ve put together an album which you can view here.


all sport uni tweaks

Uni Tweaks Concepts

We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.

So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.

Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.

Like the colorizations, I’m going to run these as inline pics — click on each one to enlarge.

And so, lets begin:


First up today is Josh Escobar, with a College uni concept today:

1932 Sooners - Josh Escobar


Hey it’s Josh Escobar with a college concept. This one is of the 1932 Oklahoma Sooners uniform. I love this uniform cuz of it’s unique way of having the numbers lined up vertically rather than horizontally.

Josh Escobar

. . .

And we close today with Rollin Garcia who has a pretty cool concept for the Philly 76ers:

NBA Concept - 76ers - Rollin Garcia


I think the 76ers tried to hard to be simplistic, yet “cutting edge” with their last design overhaul. The neck and arm treatments given to the uniforms didn’t tie in well with the single color lettering and numerals all around. Teams such as Brooklyn with their simple striping and New Orleans with the flare of a simulated pelicans beak; offer their brand the approach of classic design without the need for going overboard everywhere else. The 76ers could offer the very same with an updated version of their early Dr. J, era uniforms. Modern touches with old school flare that I feel would fit in nicely with today’s NBA.

Rollin Garcia, Jr.

. . .

And that’s it for today. Back with more next time.



New Balls, Please…

It’s that time of year again, so I’m back with my doubles partner, Brinke Guthrie, who is hear to bring you the rundown on the only remaining (of any import) grass court tennis tournament left in the world.

You guys may not know this, but at one time, three of the four grand slams (French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open, Australian Open) were played on grass courts. The US & Aussie were the other two. Now it’s down to tradition-bound Wimbledon to uphold the old order.


Here’s =BG=

. . .

A big tennis tournament kicks off tomorrow in London. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

The Championships. Wimbledon.

Let’s see who’s wearing what at the year’s third major- just one left!

• Defending champion Andy Murray will wear this look from Adidas.

• Womens Adidas pros like Ivanovic and Woz will suit up in this look.

• As far as Novak Djokovic, I have no idea. Maybe someone here will know.

• Federer and Nadal are bringing out the usual conservative Nike attire (Or as they say in London, a “kit.”)

• Serena and Eugenie Bouchard — the latest tennis IT Girl — will wear this Nike gear.

• More on the Nike guys including Sharapova here…and you can check out a special Nike Wimbledon model here.

• And here’s the best & worst dressed ladies at the WTA pre-Wimbledon party.

. . .

Thanks, Brinke!


Uni Watch News Ticker:

Baseball News: What is the cost of a number? Ubaldo Jimenez gave Kevin Gausman a Rolex watch for allowing him to wear #31 (thanks to Andrew Cosentino). … From Pacific Rim correspondent Jeremy Brahm, here are the bp uniforms for the Japanese NPB All-Star Game: Central in silver and the Pacific in gold. … The Mets best looking uniform is their home pins. So, of course, they have the worst winning percentage in MLB while wearing it (graphic by Chris Creamer). … “Was hoping vintage (Brewers’) bobble would have vintage apparel,” says Jason A. Umberg. … On Friday night, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs wore Batman-inspired jerseys on Superhero Night. Gotta love MiLB. … “Nationals unbutton for offense,” writes Marc Bauche, as The Nationals unleashed their chest hair Friday night — when I first saw this, I thought the guys were going sans-undershirts, but some players definitely have them (but they’re not, it appears, the Nike-issued ones). … “This season the Aberedeen IronBirds have made a big deal about their new uniforms eliminating blue & going to just black & orange like their parent Orioles,” writes Will Sinnott. “At (Friday) night’s home opener, while checking out the new uniforms up close in the team store, I noticed the bird heads on the caps & uniform sleeves are slightly different. The bird used on the sleeves has, in fact, lost its blue highlighting. However, the bird on the cap retains the blue highlighting. This Baltimore Sun link has very good pictures illustrating this.” … Yesterday, for the first time all year, the Orioles wore their orange jerseys on the road (spotted by Noah H. and Andrew Cosentino). Why? Apparently even Buck doesn’t know (slump-buster, perhaps?). More photos here. Said Andrew, “They usually wear orange for all of their Saturday home games, but they’ve never done so away from Camden Yards.” … Yesterday, the Durham Bulls wore pink jerseys in a “Swing for the Cure” breast cancer something or other (h/t Leland Privott). … Several tweeters sent me photos of the Marlins wearing blue jerseys, asking is this a possible new alternate. Anyone have any idea? … And this came in late, but Padres Reliever Alex Torres was wearing the new protective helmet/hat for pitchers. Apparently it looks like this (h/t to Brady Phelps).

NFL News: Have you seen the new Johnny Football billboard in Tyler, TX? First off, the Browns haven’t worn orange pants since 2004, and they’ve never worn a brown facemask (sorry, THE Jeff). But that’s not all, it was put up by Aggie fans (h/t Tony Crespo). Wonder what Earl Campbell thinks of all this.

College Football News: Interesting photo here. Submitter Jeff Moulden asks, “What is the deal with Chris Collingsworths Florida Gators jersey. It looks like they cut a #2 off a orange jersey and sewed the entire square onto a blue jersey.” Anyone have any idea (or a better explanation)?

Hockey News: The owner of what’s purported to be the world’s oldest hockey stick has once again turned down tens of thousands of dollars for the relic (from Adam Vano). This isn’t the first time he’s put the stick up for auction — and he seems bummed he’s not able to cash in. Considering he bought it for a thousand bucks in 2008, he wants more than $100K for it now.

Soccer News: Bit of a lengthy submission from Vann Holden, but a good historical context: West Ham United (Premier League) is considering a change to their club crest. Part of the change appears to be based on the upcoming move to the Olympic Stadium. The club currently feature a castle on the crest. This is a nod to the local history of the area surrounding their current stadium, the Boleyn Ground. Also up for discussion is the use of “London” on the crest to connect the club with the city for global audiences who might not immediately identify the team as London-based. The club has launched an online consultation process for club supporters. This includes a video and survey. Info from the club’s official site can be found here. Info from a supporters’ site, including how the crest has evolved over the years, can be found here. … USA Soccer fans seem to think the team is in the so-called “Group of Death.” Well, are they? (And does anyone really believe FIFA rankings anyway?) … Oooohhhh, check out this tremendous photo of “Pele and Friends” from 1958 (image via @AntiqueFootball). … While wondering around Barnes & Noble earlier this afternoon, Paul Mashack was caught by this book, 1000 Football Shirts. “While I am only a causal soccer fan in the broadest terms, I picked up the book because uniforms have always interest me. Just flipping through the book, I was fascinated by the beautiful colors, jerseys and history of the various soccer jerseys from around the world. With the World Cup going on right now, it might be something you would want to check out.” … Matt Shrum asks, “Can we get a definitive ranking of WC socks? Iran’s WC away socks (what they’re wearing [yester]day) are my fav.”

Grab Bag: “Just found this in my kids’ playroom,” writes Douglas Ford of Vanderbilt ‘kerchief. “My wife went to vandy and we’ve been married for 8 yrs but this is the first time I’ve seen it.” … Imagine seeing a towel burst into flames for no apparent reason — in Rockingham County, it’s not all that uncommon (from TommyTheCPA). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: There is “a new website a friend pointed out … called The site is free, but registration is required. The site includes several game-worn examples of hats and jerseys with info on the manufacturer.” (thanks to Scott Johnston). This will be a tremendous resource for all Uni Watchers! … Believe the hype? Is there really such a thing as sneakers that can make you run faster? (nice spot by TommyTheCPA. … Coupla very cool auction items come to us from Bruce Menard: a 1960’s Harlem Magicians Warm Up Suit, a 1974 WFL Florida Blazers Game Worn Helmet, plus the whole selection of football helmets, which includes “a bunch of killer WFL & USFL stuff there.” … Not quite sure what this is, but check out these Seattle ProAm jerseys vs Past Seattle Sonics jerseys (via Tizzy).


OK, that’s it for this Sunday. Hope you guys have a great day.

Although Paul is on vacation (and a much-deserved one), we’ll still have full content all week (Paul has a number of posts “in the hopper” and if there is any breaking uni-news, I’ll handle that). In fact, it should run so smoothly you won’t even realize Paul is on vacation! OK? OK! I’ll be handling assembling all the main entries, and putting together each days posts, and I’ll have plenty of assistance from Ek, Mike, and Garrett, with a side of Brinke. Catch you tomorrow, then, sorta!

Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.


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“1) Aesthetically speaking, that 1934 German soccer jersey (featuring a swastika) is a great-looking design. 2) No one, ever, under any circumstances, should wear it as a throwback.”


More on Uni Watch
Comments (42)

    Have you seen the new Johnny Football billboard in Tyler, TX? First off, the Browns haven’t worn orange pants since 2004, and they’ve never worn a brown facemask (sorry, THE Jeff).

    What are you apologizing to me for? Yeah, the Browns probably *should* wear a brown facemask (or just go back to the PERFECTLY FUCKING FINE white one they used to wear), but an inaccurate billboard is an inaccurate billboard.

    Hmm. Actually, I wonder if they had to do it that way to avoid copyright issues with the uniforms. Typically with unlicensed ads that feature an NFL player or team, they’d just photoshop the logos off the helmets, but that doesn’t exactly work with Cleveland.

    Over the course of the Astros wearing the tequila sunrises, they could have seen the field (and most likely did) against Atlanta in blue, Chicago in blue, New York in blue, Pittsburgh in black and/or gold, San Diego in brown, and San Francisco in orange or black.

    And yesterday’s uniforms definitely belonged on artificial turf.

    How about a baseball uniform design contest to create faux backs for teams that didn’t play in a particular era? I’d love to see what the Uni Watch readers could come up with.

    “…but at one time, three of the four grand slams (French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open, Australian Open) were played on grass courts. The US & Aussie were the other two….”

    Phil, I can’t make sense of this–what are you trying to say?

    I think Phil is listing the four grand slam tennis tournaments, then saying that the US Open and the Australian Open were played on grass years ago, along with Wimbledon. The French Open has always been played on clay courts.

    In essence, Wimbledon, US Open and Aussie Open were all at one time played on grass courts. Eventually, the US and Aussie Opens switched from grass to hard courts, while Wimbledon continues to be played on grass courts.

    Thanks Tim.

    Yes — what I meant (and Tim explained above) is that prior to 1975, the US, Australian and Wimbledon championships were all played on grass courts. Only the French was (and still is) contested on red clay.

    In 1975, the U.S. Open, then played at Forest Hills, switched to a “har-tru” (similar to clay) surface. In 1978, the tournament moved from Forest Hills to the National Tennis Center, located next to Shea Stadium, where it’s been played on a hard court (deco turf, or something like that) ever since.

    The Australian open was also played on grass until 1987, when that tourney moved and also got hard courts in 1988.

    Only Wimbledon continues to be played on grass, and knowing how stubbornly the Brits hold on to whatever vestiges of their past they can, will likely be played on grass for the foreseeable future.

    Bonus factoid: Because the US Open was played on three different surfaces in a relatively short period of time (until 1974 on grass, 75-77 on har-tru, 78-present on hardcourts), Jimmy Connors holds the distinction of being the only person to win three US Opens on three different surfaces.

    “knowing how stubbornly the Brits hold on to whatever vestiges of their past they can” === Just because everyone else is wrong is no reason for us to follow suit ;)

    1. Those aren’t Marlins, that’s Boyz II Men! Those are fashion jerseys and caps they sell in the team store, dunno if there are plans to use them.

    2. Collinsworth’s number issue is simply the equipment manager not trimming the bottom/outline tackle twill piece, and sewing the whole block onto the jersey. Seen this quite a bit back in the day.

    It’s the best looking treatment of the current Marlins uniform style, and it actually looks like something that belongs in the city of Miami, so of course the team will never make it an on-field jersey. Jeff Loria hates baseball fans and wants us to suffer.

    I don’t mind in general that the Rays fauxback borrows so exactly from the Padres. But I do think the jersey script goes too far in Padres-aping. It’d be better to put the TB logo on the left chest – or even, in the spirit of the wild 1970s, on the right chest, with the number opposite on the left. Then design a new Rays script for the team logo that uses the italic letterforms of the TB logo.

    I love these fauxbacks more each year. Originally, I was sort of like, “Hey, cool!” By now, I’m more like, “Please adopt these full time!” The great thing is, they could be worn home and road, and the Rays would only need a color-reversed alternate jersey to avoid clashing with teams that wear navy alternates at home. Oh, and of course the stirrups need stripes to match the sleeves.

    As long as they’re playing in that stadium, I agree with Arr…they should adopt these full time.

    Man, I forgot they were playing that game yesterday. Not that I was able to watch it. If anyone taped the game, let’s talk.

    I’m a lifelong Astros fan who loves to see the occasional rainbow throwback game. But Majestic has yet to get it right. Would it kill Majestic to get the placement of the rainbow guts and the wordmark correct? The photo you posted is the top one, and a vintage photo is the bottom one. And a third photo is the rainbow sleeve to make a subsequent photo. As you can see, the rainbows start too low on the throwback, and the font is off. Majestic’s font is always closer to the font used on the road Astros rainbow sleeves, circa 1983-93.




    At least ESPN has a short video recap of the Rays-Astros game. Check out the turn back the clock ladies dancing in the beginning (which looks more like the 1960’s than 1970’s) – link

    Ugh… html tags… 2nd try:

    The Mets best looking uniform is their home pins road greys.

    The Rays fauxbacks are like just like a soda, a good short term solution, but not filling in the long run. Only 17,500 turned out on a Saturday with school out with an exciting young Astros team in town. With the return of the losing ways, the shine has worn off those fauxbacks.

    I get the creativity and fun aspect of the Rays fauxbacks, but anytime I see a fauxback or throwback jersey, it always brings to mind the players, teams, and memories of that era.

    With Tampa Bay, there’s no tradition, for all intents and purposes, the parks and rec baseball team could be wearing those uniforms. By contrast, the Astros uniforms conjures up memories of Nolan Ryan, JR Richard, Jose Cruz, etc.

    Really? Share with us please a photo of a parks & rec team wearing anything like the Rays fauxback.

    Seems to me that the Tampa Bay region does have baseball tradition: a long minor-league tradition, a spring training tradition, and, from the late 1970s onward, an MLB tradition of being jerked around in various relocation/expansion scams to shake down other cities for public subsidies. Even the Rays themselves exist mainly because DC and Virginia, at the time, refused to offer enough taxpayer handouts to win an expansion team, and MLB was out of other realistic options. There’s a lot of might-have-been for baseball in Tampa Bay, and the ’78 fauxback nicely captures that spirit.

    Sure, that history ain’t Nolan Ryan, but he always looked better in a Rangers uniform anyway.

    I was at the game yesterday in St Pete and the teams were a lot of (visual) fun to watch. It was fantastic to see that all the Rays and most of the Astros went high cuffed (the way it should be – no pajamas for me please!).

    Nice to see uni-watch dedicate so much space for the game. However, the dig on the Trop is unnecessary. Please spend some time grilling (and trying to stay dry during the tremendous rain storms that pop up) in florida during the summer before you get so harsh on playing baseball indoors.

    Btw- when I watch highlights on espn or elsewhere, there are a lot of open seats throughout MLB baseball stadiums EVERYWHERE. As a lifetime resident of St Pete, all I can say is that every community will get their shakedown from MLB (and MiLB for that matter)! Enjoy your team for the moment because MLB is just a traveling circus moving onto the next big payday… I’m looking at you DC, Boston (Braves), St Louis (Browns), Seattle, Milwaukee, Chicago, New York, Anaheim, Los Angeles (Dodger cable shakedown – the next frontier in MLB’s quest for cash)…

    Yes, I’ve seen plenty of games at the Trop since 1998 but yesterday’s contest was especially fun…

    The more Rays home games I watch (which isn’t much, but I try to catch them during the free preview weeks), the more I like the Trop. And the ’79 uniforms just fit that building perfectly.

    It’s a shame you may not have the Rays much longer. It’s a fun team, Dewayne Staats is a joy to listen to listen to on TV, and until recently they were contenders. Enjoy them while you have them.

    Actually, the Mets best unis are the blue road alternates. Followed closely by the road greys and home pins. The home blue alternate isn’t too shabby either. Now if the Metsies would just throwback to the 1993 road greys, I’d be one happy camper!

    “If only they had shown a *little* imagination and not basically lifted the uniform from the 1978 Padres, who, with a color swap of brown and gold for navy and powder blue, were pretty identical.”

    Bite your tongue. They took that design and made it look great. I’ve said before: the only way brown looks good on a uniform is if it’s paired with baby blue. Or in the Browns case, orange. But nobody really cares about the Browns anymore so…

    And great job Rollin on the Sixers concept. Those are beautiful.

    Also, the number font isn’t exactly the same. The Rays’ numbers are rounded at the ends, while the Padres’ numbers have straight edges.

    I’d say they’re equally great. Brown and yellow are just as wonderful as double blue.

    Jim is correct on the number fonts (as he is about the awesomeness of color in uniforms). The Rays use a font that looks like T VAG Rounded, which, if you’re using a Mac, might be what you see if you look down at your keyboard. The Padres seem to have used a variation of Futura Bold, only with a different “1”.

    I’d prefer the Padres going back to their 1978 brown and gold look (one of my all time favourites) than the Rays going to their fauxback, but since that’s not going to happen Tampa Bay should adopt this look full time.

    Minor tweaking to the Rays fauxback may or may not improve it (maybe adding a bit more yellow – yellow stripes on sleeves instead of dark blue, or a slight change in the ‘rays’ front name font???), but they look very good as is.

    What I think would improve the Astros ‘tequila sunrise’ throwback wouldn’t be fixing minor inaccuracies, it would be the choice of year – 1975 (with the circle number on back) is a step up.

    My taste may be somewhat influenced because I had my younger childhood in the 70’s (born 1968) and I am only a casual fan, but I think major league baseball teams should look at some of the things done in the 1970’s/80’s and adopt a few of them (some teams having non-grey road jerseys) and tone down some others and adopt them (i.e. Phillies burgundy 1979 jersey but not pants) at least as alternate jerseys.

    The collinsworth jersey is a photoshop. UF didn’t have blue jerseys when he was there, only orange. Also, as for the tackle twill. UF didn’t have those either, like most colleges at the time they used screened numbers.

    clarification: when Charley Pell brought in the new helmet/uniform design (the script Gator helmet) the old blue jerseys went away. sooo during his first year (78) he may have worn blue but the blue jersey wasn’t that design (no stripes) and certainly wasn’t blue with the now classic script Gators.

    I still think the Rays fauxback should look like this:


    Or did they forget they didn’t become the Rays until 2008?

    Idk how much that auction site can be trusted regarding the football helmets~ they claim an Oklahoma Outlaw helmet is a TB Bandits, and that blue facemask on the 75 SA Wings helmet hadn’t even been invented yet~ some other questionable facemask on the era the helmets represented as well. ..

    The following concept map is one way of alleviating that.
    The belief is that the room can also add splash or vice versa.
    When we enter the hallway we push the content, give it a shake, the chemicals inside
    are mixed and it’s full of throw pillows. And so
    this is a really chair 5 girdwood common problem. Engineered quartz, stainless steel components and pneumatic muscles, all shapes are possible.

    Love everything about the Sixers concept except the “PHILLY”. Blecch. That should never be on an actual game uniform IMO. Otherwise two thumbs up.

Comments are closed.